Gail Thomas has published four books of poetry, Odd Mercy (Headmistress, 2016), Waving Back (Turning Point, 2015), No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley (Haleys, 2001) and Finding the Bear (Perugia Press, 1997).
Waving Back was named a Must Read for 2016 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and Odd Mercy was chosen by Ellen Bass for the Charlotte Mew Prize. At the center of Odd Mercy is "The Little Mommy Sonnets", awarded Honorable Mention in the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Contest for Traditional Verse. Her poem "Wisteria" won the Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Prize.
Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies including The Beloit Poetry Journal, Calyx, Hanging Loose, The North American Review, The Chiron Review, Cider Press Review and Naugatuck River Review. Also, individual poems have won the Naugatuck Review Narrative Poetry Contest and the Pat Schneider Poetry Prize.
She has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and was awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross.
Her book, No Simple Wilderness, about the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930’s has been taught in college writing and multidisciplinary courses. As one of the original artists for the MCC’s Elder Arts Initiative, Thomas led workshops and intergenerational arts projects across the state.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Thomas raised her daughters in Western Massachusetts where she has lived for more than 35 years.
First place, Naugatuck Review's Narrative Poetry Contest;
Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Contest Honorable Mention for Traditional Verse; Charlotte Mew Prize for Odd Mercy from Headmistress Press, Must Read Book for 2016 for Waving Back from Massachusetts Center for the Book, Honorable Mention for Waving Back from New England Book Festival, MacDowell Colony residency, Ucross Foundation residency, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, Poets Seat Poetry Award, Massachusetts Cultural Council grants, Community Foundation of Western MA, Puffin Foundation, Quadrangle Poetry Award, James Hearst Poetry Prize (2nd place), Pat Schneider Poetry Prize, Robert Collen Poetry Prize (2nd place)
Readings & Presentations
Gail gives poetry readings at schools and colleges, book stores, festivals, conferences, historical societies, cafes and galleries throughout the Northeast. She has been a presenter at writing, social work, and academic conferences on topics such as Poems of Dislocation, Arts and Alzheimer's, Publishing Your Poems, Writing Across Generations, Poets and Revision, and Building Community through the Arts.
Journals & Anthologies
Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Bay Windows, Beloit Poetry Journal, Buckle, Calyx, Canary, Cedar Rock, The Chiron Review, Cider Press Review, Connections, Compass Roads, Cumberland River Review, Disquieting Muses Quarterly, Earth’s Daughters, Evergreen Chronicles, Extracts, Feminist Parenting, A Fine Excess: 50 Years of Beloit, Gallery of Readers Anthology, Hanging Loose, Hiram Poetry Review, The Larcom Review, Mezzo Cammin, Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke: Erotic Poems, The Naugatuck River Review, New England Watershed, New Verse News, The North American Review, Paradise Found , Passager, Peregrine, The Prose Poem Project, Silkworm, Sojourner, Split Rock Review, String Poet, Valparaiso Poetry Review, VerseWrights, Yarrow,Yet Another Small Magazine, Your Daily Poem, Winning Writers, Writing in a Woman's Voice
After more than 20 years as a high school English teacher, Gail founded Elder Voices, offering writing programs for seniors and intergenerational arts programs at schools, senior centers, retirement homes and hospitals. As part of these programs she gave workshops, organized readings, and published anthologies. Recognizing her skill as an artist and teacher, the Massachusetts Cultural Council chose Gail to mentor other artists and lead community arts programs throughout the state.
She also teaches poetry craft workshops at colleges, libraries, and the Pioneer Valley Writers Workshops. As an educator with more than 35 years of experience in teaching and facilitation, Gail is equally at home in a classroom or community setting. From children and teens to college students, adults and seniors, she reaches across difference to create stimulating and enriching arts experiences.
“Being in this workshop felt as if a window suddenly opened in my life at a time when I didn't expect anything new to happen."
“Perhaps poetry is all around us. Maybe it is when people like you come and urge us to look around, to look back, and to put down on paper when we see, however inept we may feel."
“My fear of writing disappeared because you made me feel so comfortable. You brought out the best in us."